BzzAgent Word of Mouth Disclosure Policy Enhanced
Boston-based buzz marketing firm BzzAgent has strengthened its stance on transparency. While the agency has always asked its bzzagents to disclose their involvement with BzzAgent, the agency now requires all new BzzAgent community registrants to verify that they have read and accepted the company's Code of Conduct which requires campaign participants to make certain others are aware they have volunteered to be involved in a word-of-mouth campaign.
So that existing bzzagents are also adhering to full disclosure, BzzAgent has added a check box to its reporting template, a section where members describe their interactions as they buzz products, which must be checked off to participate as a member of BzzAgent. BzzAgent is also saying it will require members who do not properly disclose their BzzAgent status to those they interact with to complete an online training course before participating in the company's future campaigns.
"Requiring disclosure is not just the proper decision from an ethical standpoint," said Dave Balter, CEO of BzzAgent. "but it is also the smart policy to drive optimal campaign performance. Our goal is to ensure transparency by educating and training our valued community of volunteers."
BzzAgent has written a white paper (pdf) on the topic of disclosure which incorporates narratives contained in its inventory of 270,000 word-of-mouth reports and recent statistical data compiled by Dr. Walter Carl of Northeastern University. Balter said the report's conclusions - namely that disclosure creates peer trust, combats "stealth" stigma, supports perceived product value, and increases depth and reach of product-related discussions - was the catalyst for the policy enhancement.